December 14, 2011

I Press On


“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14)

Paul’s words minister to me. As you can probably tell by several of my recent posts, I’m all about goals. About moving forward. Pressing on.

But it can be hard to press on sometimes, especially when something in the past is weighing us down.

Maybe it’s a sin we just can’t seem to forgive ourselves for. Maybe it’s something that happened in our lives that’s made us angry. Or sad. Or nostalgic. Maybe it’s a great loss we’ve experienced, or something we failed to do, or even a blessing we aren’t ready to give up, even if God’s asking us to.

When I was 19, my mom passed away. She’d been sick for about 4 years off and on (fighting cancer). From the time I was 15 to the time I was 19, the words “chemotherapy” and “hospice” took on new meanings for me. I became depressed, weighed down. Understandable, I think.

And after she died, I couldn’t possibly think about “forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.” Life had lost its luster, its shine of promise. Life was shrouded in death.

But slowly, day by day, God gave me “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (Isaiah 61:3). I can’t really explain how He did it; I just know it was Him all the way.

And I’m so glad, because I wouldn’t want my past to define me. I only want God to use my past to transform me, to change me into someone who is more others-centered, more focused on what’s really important.

By forgetting what’s behind, I don’t actually forget the pain I went through. I don’t forget the ache I sometimes feel when I see my mom’s picture and know she won’t be with me on earth another day.

But I don’t focus on it or dwell on it. My past is past, and it’s part of me. I’ve learned from it, so it definitely still has value.

But it isn’t what should be taking up my energy. 

I should be “straining toward what is ahead,” pressing “on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

May God help me do that, day by day, so I can be most effective where He has me, right now.

Your Turn: Do you find yourself dwelling on the past or straining toward what’s ahead? What has helped you keep your eyes on the path ahead?

*Photo courtesy of jscreationzs:
http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=1152

9 comments:

  1. Love these words: "And I’m so glad, because I wouldn’t want my past to define me. I only want God to use my past to transform me, to change me into someone who is more others-centered, more focused on what’s really important"

    The pain of losing my father three years ago is still fresh, but with the help of God I am not consumed by it. That experience has definitely transformed me and re-focused my goals. After losing him I realized my family was far more important than promotions at work.

    Thank you for this post. I needed to hear it, Christmas was my dad's favorite holiday and I find myself thinking of him more as Christmas draws near. I don't want to be consumed with missing him, I need to keep pressing on! That can be hard because my dad inspired me so much. He inspired my post for today about being Jolly.

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  2. Oh man, am I ever a past dweller. I've had much to learn in this area and that verse has been one to live by!

    ~ Wendy

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  3. TC, I definitely know what you mean. The holidays can sometimes be the most difficult times. I think it's OK to miss our parents who are gone, but we just can't let it consume us, like you said. After all, this holiday is a day to celebrate!

    Wendy, this verse is a lifeline for me too.

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  4. Great post, Lindsay! I dwell on the past to an extent, but more as a catalyst, I think. I've been through those dark, dark times too, and I love it when God allows light to spill through.

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  5. I agree completely, Sarah. I thank God for that light as well!

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  7. Moving post, Lindsay.

    When I was younger I dwelt on the past. I used the past as an excuse to play the victim.

    But then the Lord surrounded me with wonderfully strong women who encouraged me and showed me through their lives that you have to move forward! You have to forgive! ...and I did.

    Now I try my best to learn from the past, but not dwell on it. I can look back now without those feelings of pain or shame or anger.

    Praise the Lord! Paul's words are edifying. He of all people could have dwelt on his past...and been paralyzed with shame. But he learned to move forward.

    So should we!

    Blessings,
    Ruth

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  8. I am glad to see I am not alone. I have been known to frequent the past a lot. I claim so many verses to help curb my trends to dwell. One step at a time... thanks for the reminder.

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  9. Jodi, I know what you mean! I like how you said you "claim...verses." It's important to use our most valuable tool--God's Word!

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